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4 Ways to Test Your Site’s User Experience

Person at the computer thinking about website usability testing
November 18, 2021

According to Forrester Research, for every dollar invested in user research, brands see an average ROI of $100. Why? Because user research initiatives and usability tests deliver actionable data from your target audience…data that can be used to significantly enhance the performance of your website. 

Whether you’re building a brand-new digital experience or simply looking to improve an existing site, here are four usability tests that can help you blast through assumptions and biases to deliver the best possible experience to your user base.

Usability Tests to Improve Your Site’s User Experience

Card Sorting

Card sorting is a testing method in which your users organize topics/content into groups based on their intuition and thought processes. Typically, specific content pieces/website pages/application features are written on individual index cards. The test subject is then asked to organize the cards in a way that makes the most sense to them. 

Many brands use card sorting when building out their site’s information architecture, menu structure, or website navigation. Card sorting allows users to dictate how your data and pages can be organized and which pieces of content are more important than others. 

Card sorting ensures that the information on the website is:

Tree Testing

If your user base constantly tells you that they’re having a hard time finding critical information on your website, consider conducting a tree test.

A tree test is all about assessing the findability of information on a website or app. In a standard tree test, your user group would be presented with a “tree” (e.g., a breakdown of your site navigation or menu structure) without the distraction of graphics. They would then be asked where they would go within the presented tree to look for information to common user questions, like:

If your test subjects’ responses are inaccurate or statements of confusion (Um…I don’t know where to go to find that), then that is a sure sign that you need to make a change to your current tree structure.

Tree testing ensures that the content flows in a way that matches the mental map of your audience.

Audience Survey

Whereas tree testing and card sorting focus more on qualitative data, audience surveys can provide you with the quantitative data you need to identify specific issues within your site’s user experience. Like with a standard survey, you would work with your testing partner to put together a list of questions about the usability of your website or app – common frustration points, suggestions for improvement, etc.

Once your survey has been created, you can determine how it’s delivered to your audience (email or in-person). If you opt for an in-person survey, it may be useful to moderate the surveying. The right moderating partner can probe deeper during the survey to collect not only the specific answers to the survey questions but the “why” behind the given answers.

Task-Based Usability Testing

If you’re experiencing high page abandonment or low form completions, it may be a sign that these areas of your site are not meeting user expectations. With task-based usability, you’re observing and hearing your testing group think out loud as they complete specific actions within your website or application.

These can be everyday tasks like:

Or they can be tasks that are more critical to your organization’s success:

As a quick note, while the above tests can be conducted with or without a moderator, we do recommend that task-based usability testing be done through a moderator to guide the testing session and delve into the reasoning behind the feedback, which can improve any trouble spots.

Interested In Conducting Your Own Testing?

At Astriata, we’ve helped dozens of brands test and improve their user experience to better align with their organization’s goals. To learn more about our offering, including our task-based usability testing protocol, reach out to us today.

Are you looking for more ways to improve your digital experience? Download our newest resource, “How Alliances and Professional Organizations can Improve Member Experience and Drive Recruitment Through a Stronger Website Experience,” to learn more about the five digital marketing trends that will be driving growth for brands in 2022.


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